The digital storefront: The top 10 things online shoppers want

eCommerce went through a massive transformation when the world closed up shop in 2020, forever changing how consumers shop online.

Coupled with the surge of online shoppers and brick-and-mortor stores closing by the dozen, the competition is now only a click away, making it harder for brands to stand out.

With more activity online, your competition is just a click away

As stay-at-home orders were issued, eCommerce boomed and so did the demands of online shoppers. According to GWI, here are the new top 10 things that shoppers are saying that would encourage them to buy a product when shopping online:

1. Free delivery/returns

Once considered a perk, most people now expect free delivery and returns as standard—so much so that several studies have indicated that shipping costs are a leading cause of shopping cart abandonment.

2. Quick/easy check-out process

Nobody enjoys waiting in line at their local department store, and the same applies when shopping online. Keep your checkout flow as tight and short as possible. Your customers will thank you for making it easy and your cash registers will thank you for the design smarts.

Have you optimised your checkout process to drive sales and conversions?

3. If the brand supported people during COVID-19

Recent research on Australian households shows a growing culture of doing the right things, looking after society, and “being all in this together.” Socially conscious values have been in focus in recent years, and little things such as how a brand responds during the crisis will have a large impact on whether customers will continue buying from a brand once the crisis is over.

4. If the shopping experience is entertaining

Given the context of shopping online, parts of this experience can become stale, creating a rising trend for a more entertaining experience when shopping online.

Livestreaming is one way of doing so and already emerging in parts of Asia as a way to provide that entertainment in the shopping experience. They’re engaging and easily accessible, as well as entertaining. It’s apparent this will only continue to grow as we see social platforms such as TikTok and Instagram doubling down on eCommerce integration with live-streams.

Livestreaming is becoming increasingly popular among brands, content creators and consumers

5. If the brand supports social causes

The Himalayas were visible from India for the first time in three decades. Venice’s usually murky canals turned clear. The air quality improved drastically in many major cities.

The reduced economic activity as a result of widespread stay-at-home orders led to a major decrease in CO2 emissions, resulting in a ‘green awakening’ in the collective consciousness. In July 2020, 72% of consumers across 20 countries said companies behaving sustainably was more important to them due to COVID-19 and the positive effects that had been witnessed.

6. Ability to virtually ‘try-on’ or ‘test’ a product

Trying on or testing products is not something consumers are able to do when shopping online. Therefore, there has been an increasing demand for the ability to virtually “try-on” or “test” a product. This means incorporating AR or sending sample products they can try.

7. Viewing a live product demo

We usually emphasise the importance of product photographs for eCommerce. Photos are a key factor to sell online; however, videos allow the user to see the product more closely – especially when it’s complex or very small.

Live product demos helps the buyer connect with the product and see it in action, or how it’s used. Because things cannot be touched – the main downside of online shopping – being able to see someone else holding and explaining the product allows for a better understanding of the product.

8. Live Q&A sessions with product experts

Subject matter experts – a unique kind of professional who serves more as a trusted advisor than a stereotypical salesperson – is becoming more prominent as their expertise and influence to inform is based on the customer’s needs, not their own. Subject matter experts inspire trust and loyalty with their sound, credible advice. They value relationships and respect their customer’s goals.

9. Recommendation from an influencer

Although the influencer marketing industry is reaching maturity, influencer sponsoring is still effective and consumers still depend on influencer recommendations. Recent market research finds that social media influencers will continue to be an invaluable trust-building mechanism for brands to connect with their audiences. Not only do 49% of consumers depend on influencer recommendations, but 40% had also purchased something after seeing it on Twitter, YouTube or Instagram. If consumers feel confident about an influencer’s recommendation, they are more likely to make a purchase.

Influencer marketing is still thriving and are an essential part of the current media landscape. As countries open back up, the demand will likely only be greater.

10. Limited product availability

It’s no secret: Scarcity marketing works (and still does). People always want what they can’t have because they think the grass is greener on the other side. Scarcity marketing focuses on consumers’ fear of losing their freedom of choice. Simply put, if a product isn’t available, it suddenly becomes more attractive.

A quick return to normality will likely unleash pent-up demand back to stores, but online shopping is here to stay. The majority of consumers plan to shop online more often once the pandemic is over, and for those craving a more entertaining and interactive experience, activities such as livestreams will help brands to elevate the online shopping experience into something far more than just buying a product.

To replicate the social, fun and interactive element that comes with in-store shopping, look to the consumer’s needs and start experimenting, as it’ll be imperative to thrive and survive the eCommerce landscape in the coming years.

To be continued…

Illustrations: undraw.co